Sri Lanka halts off-season visa-free plan after bombings

Sri Lankan youngsters bathe as an elephant walks in a lake at Kataragama on April 14, 2017. AFP/Ishara S Kodikara

Colombo:  Sri Lanka’s authorities stated Thursday it was suspending plans to grant residents of 39 nations visa-free entry in the course of the nation’s tourism off-season after lethal Easter bombings that killed a whole bunch.

“Though preparations have been in place to difficulty visas on arrival for residents of 39 nations, we’ve now determined to carry it in the meanwhile in consideration of the present safety scenario,” Tourism Minister John Amaratunga stated in an announcement.

“Investigations have revealed overseas hyperlinks to the (Easter) assaults and we do not need this programme to be abused.”

Sri Lanka had introduced final month a plan to permit visa-free entry to vacationers from 39 nations, together with EU members, Australia and the USA, in the course of the off-season, from Might 1.

The scheme didn’t embody China and India, from the place a lot of Sri Lanka’s guests come.

The devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings towards church buildings and motels killed 359 individuals, together with dozens of foreigners.

The blasts have rocked the nation’s burgeoning tourism business, which is without doubt one of the most vital overseas trade earners for the island.

Sri Lanka obtained 740,600 overseas vacationers within the first three months of the yr, up 4.6 % from the identical interval a yr earlier.

It welcomed a file 2.33 million vacationers in 2018, and was named the world’s prime journey vacation spot for 2019 by the Lonely Planet information guide.

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